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Saturday 10 October 2009

Announcing Auckland's Aroha Festival!

Posted in: Events
By Matt Akersten - 9th September 2009

He's got the ideas, he's got the connections, he's got the talent, and now - perhaps most crucially - he's got the money.

Yes, New Zealand's well-known takataapui entertainer and talent scout Mika is planning big. He says he'll bring together Auckland's many diverse cultures to form a world-class arts festival for the city's gay and lesbian community and beyond.

The AROHA Festival is scheduled for 6-12 March 2010, a little after the traditionally busy February of gay events in Auckland, and just after Sydney's Mardi Gras parade. The Festival will coincide and compliment Pasifika Fest 2010, says Mika.

"Takataapui artists have always been at the forefront of cultural change in Aotearoa," he explains. "The Aroha Festival will build on Aotearoa-wide recognition of the influence of Takataapui on the arts.

Mika decided to act after being constantly approached by members of the LGBT community to organise something, now that the Hero Festival has finished. He applied to Creative New Zealand and secured $30,000 from its Te Waka Toi fund, along with $13,000 worth of assistance with venue costs and a $2,500 contribution towards marketing costs from the Pasifika Festival.

"We invite our Pakeha, Polynesian, Asian and Indian brothers and sisters to join a celebration that is only possible in Auckland."


The unique, five-day Aroha Festival will be spread across a selection of large and small venues, including the Aotea Centr'es ASB Theatre and the Galatos venue near K' Road, says Mika. Smaller events will happen in the many venues scattered around the K' Road area, offering a versatile range of performance, exhibition and breakout spaces - hopefully including one large outdoor event in nearby Beresford Square.

The schedule currently includes an outdoor launch party on Saturday 6 March in Western Springs Park, leading up to K' Road buzzing through the night working together on fundraising activities for LGBT causes.

The early part of the week will feature events showcasing Japanese, Indonesian and Hawaiian cultures. A takataapui youth event is planned for Thursday 11 March, before a special show in the Aotea Centre on Friday. Auckland's annual Pasifika Festival kicks off on Saturday.

"Aroha will attract a diverse audience as well as encouraging community participation through workshops and discussions," Mika promises. "We're expecting to reach up to 4,000 people through the inaugural Aroha Festival."


More events are still to be confirmed and announced soon, Mika tells us, and will shortly be online as the festival's homebase on the web.

In the meantime, Mika would like to hear from any LGBT groups or individuals keen to get involved with Aroha. Your ideas for events as part of the festival are welcome - email to get in touch directly.



Mika's Aroha Festival isn't the only thing popping up for gay Aucklanders to enjoy next year to replace the now-defunct Hero Festival.

With so much more dates and information to be revealed soon, here's's guide to 2010's key dates so far:

Across February: Auckland's new LGBT Festival, with dates and events to be confirmed. Email enquiries to

Sun 14 February: Big Gay Out 2010, Popular annual LGBT picnic day, Coyle Park, Point Chevalier

Sat 20 February: Carnivale Party, from the team behind this year's Hero Party, venue and more details to be announced

Fri 26 February: Air New Zealand's Pink Flight (likely date - to be confirmed)

Sat 27 February: Sydney's Mardi Gras Parade

Sun 28 February: Sydney's Harbour Party

Sat 6 March: Sydney's Mardi Gras Party, and at home the Aroha Festival Launch in Western Springs Park, followed by a variety of K' Road night clubs fundraising for GLBT causes through the evening/night

Mon 8 - Wed 10 March: Aroha Festival continues with Japanese, Indonesian and Hawaiian events

Thurs 11 March: Aroha Festival Takataapui Youth Event

Fri 12 March: Aroha Festival show at Aotea Centre

Sat 13 March: Pasifika Festival begins

Matt Akersten - 9th September 2009

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